Dungeons and Bosses
Piano Quartet (2018) 5'15”
Some of the earliest memories of really appreciating music composition came from my time playing video games. My father bought me and my siblings a Nintendo 64 and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 1998. I remember spending hours just walking around dungeons in the game taking in Koji Kondo’s harmonic language built on non-tonal structures based on parallel fourths. It just seemed so surreal and alien and immersive. My father would also sneak in and play the game when we were all asleep, and he and I shared a love for the Spirit Temple and its themes and sound world.
In Dungeons and Bosses, I’ve taken two major compositional techniques, and many smaller ones, and built my own mid-90s video game narrative for piano quartet in six minutes. The first involves Koji Kondo’s dungeon themes from Ocarina of Time, as well as some influence of Grant Kirkhope (Goldeneye 007, Banjo- Kazooie), and David Wise (Donkey Kong Country, Battletoads), who use melodic ostinato and parallel harmonic structures to create atmospheric music. The second part is mostly influenced by Pokémon battle themes by Junichi Masuda, which use incredibly sophisticated four voice chromatic counterpoint. Together I’ve built a two-part form following the listener through their own adventure crawling through a dungeon, finding a boss, and eventually finding victory.
noise Play III
Taiko Duet (2018) 11’00”
Noise Play III is the final movement of a three movement work for taiko artists. I’ve had the pleasure of working with amazing taiko performers from across the world, and at each of my degree requirement recitals I have included a work for taiko titled Noise Play. This work was written for my dear friend Urie Klein.
Brass Quintet and Whirly Tubes (2017) 6'15"
Vaulted Ceilings is an expansion of a sound world I was exploring in a similarly titled work Vaulted Ceilings and Sacred Spaces where I use crystal glasses, whirly tubes, and brass to create sonic rings within a space. It was meant to evoke the sound world found in many churches and temples, an often resonant and echoing chamber designed to ring.
Vaulted Ceilings uses a 10 triad series as the base of its overall form outlined by the whirly tubes, pitched chromatically from Eb to A. The melodic content of the brass is also derived from the series, but texturally is designed to contrast the constant tones of the whirly tubes. The result is a juxtaposition of vastly different timbres that evoke the sacred spaces the piece is inspired by.
Turtle and Crane
Koto and Cello (2017) 6'00"
Performed by Duo Yumeno March 2018 at Orvis Auditorium in Honolulu, HI.
The Girl from the West
Electric Guitar and PIano (2015) 7’4"
Girl from the West is a work inspired by the work of Puccini, and performed by TILT Ensemble in Uzzano, Italy, December 2015.
Of Ants and Ents
Concert Band (2015) 12'00"
$30 for a PDF of the score or $250 for PDFs of both score and parts.
Rentals of this score and parts are available upon request
To purchase or rent this score, fill out the contact form.
Of Ants and Ents, is a concert band work specifically written for advanced younger musicians. The form of the work outlines a story of incredibly fantastical creatures called ents known as the sentient tree shepherds of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings universe. The story opens to the earth itself greeting the ensemble, and the ensemble responding in kind. The brass section of the band then assumes the role of ents; monstrous and mythical, these goliaths walk with a slow saunter, each step purposeful and measured. The wind section then responds with a very different creature of the forest, as one and two, then ten and twelve, then hundreds upon thousands of little black ants march in chaotic order as they construct their home. The dialog between these sections and characters flow back and forth to a climactic scene where both of these entities: towering trees and mobs of ants crawling on top of one another fight for the attention of the listener.
The work’s purpose is to introduce younger musicians to combinations of playing styles and sounds to highlight the challenges of individual instruments being a part of different sections. One example the horns, who learn to change characters by working with different sections, and in turn, have to change the very timbre, or sound quality, of their instrument. This is true with all of the instruments of the ensemble, as they discover how their instrument contributes to the narrative of the work, and become excited to perform it.
PREMIERING THIS WORK
This work remains unperformed at this time. If you are interested in premiering this work, a special order price will be available for your ensemble.
THEN THE ECHO GOES
FLUTE, CLARINET, VIOLIN, AND CELLO
Originally a work for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and narrator, You Know, Buddha (2011) presented a narrated text of Alan Watts, 20th century western Buddhist philosopher. The music was an interpretation of my reaction to the lecture narrated. Sometimes I agreed and sometimes I did not. It was the nature of the piece to have each instrument go on its own tangent in separate modes and rhythmic cells only to be joined later by single motifs and pleasant harmonies when my mind found itself at ease with his words. By removing the narration, there was quite a bit of trouble: word painting became superfluous, and pauses that allowed the ensemble and narrator to cue each other no longer served their purpose of bringing unity to the quintet. A bit of rewriting had to be done. The title of this work, Then the Echo Goes, is lifted from the same lecture by Alan Watts on the nature of nothingness. A pun of sorts, I guess, if you consider this piece an echo of its older brother.
All kinds of poetry emphasize the theme of transience. And there’s a kind of nostalgic beauty to it. The banquet hall deserted after the revelry, all the guests have left and gone their way. A table of overturned glasses, crumpled napkins, bread crumbs and dirty knives and forks lies empty and the laughter echoes only in one’s mind. Then the echo goes. A memory. The traces are all gone... do you see, in a way, how that this is saying the most real state is the state of nothing.
– Alan Watts
Noise Play II
Percussion Trio (2014) 10'00"
Noise Play I, premiered in 2013, was an experiment in instrumentation and rhythmic layers. I borrowed patterns from basso nova, modern Japanese taiko, and Afro-Cuban music to create a fun experience for both performers and audiences. In this continuation, I carry over the idea of allowing percussionists to choose their own instruments, the only limitations being that they must belong to four families for each percussionist: an aerophone, 5 membranophones, 4 long-envelope idiophones and 4 short-envelope idiophones. An expansion of the theme of freedom and mobility is included in this iteration through solo sections which lend themselves well to the three taiko performers who premiered this work.
Noise Play I
percussion Trio (2013) 6'00"
In my never ending quest to bring taiko to the western art stage, I began exploring sounds and rhythms that would be pervasive. The impetus to create this piece was twofold: one, I began looking at many works by Reich, and was inspired by the versatility and flexibility of his percussion works and two, I had found an almost meditative appreciation for the “noise” that comes from multiple performers playing similar drills in different times. Because of this research, I wanted to create a piece that could be played by any three percussionists playing any five membranophones and four non-membranophones of their choosing.
Guitar Duet (2013) 6'30"
I didn’t have a stellar freshman year in college. I fell into many of the vices eighteen year olds do when they move away from home into a strange and enabling place. There are amazing opportunities in university to better one’s self and grow in change in a positive and reinforcing manner. I, unfortunately, chose to take other opportunities whose consequences left none of those results.
In 2009 I wrote a guitar duet called “Together.” Much like me at the time it was dull and completely vacuous. I wanted to somehow revisit those scattered moments that I can hardly piece together myself by rewriting a piece from that time. I have changed and grown in unimaginable ways; I just wanted some closure, and this piece brought me that.
taiko and orchestra (2012) 11'00"
$30 for a PDF of the score or $250 for PDFs of both score and parts.
Rentals of this score and parts are available upon request.
To purchase or rent this score, fill out the contact form.
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident was the first battle of the Second Sino-Japanese War between the Republic of China's Revolutionary Army and Japan's Imperial Army. At 11pm on July 17, 1937, a Japanese soldier went missing after a few warning shots were fired from both sides. A fog settled in all along the bridge as reinforcements prepared for battle in the dark. It was dark, foggy, muggy, and warm. At 3am fire erupted from the site and continued until the next morning when Japanese force invaded Beijing. This piece encapsulates the images of shots being fired through a foggy darkness.
The mystic image of a taiko performer behind the orchestra sets an excellent atmosphere when creating this imagery. Every passage is a thread that adds to the tapestry, and every thread tells a story from that night.
Premiering this work
This work remains unperformed at this time. If you are interested in performing this work, I have several taiko performers ready to perform alongside your orchestra.
A special order price will be available for any orchestra wanting to premiere the work.
Migrating Birds and Fences
Flute, Brass Septet, Percussion and Taiko (2011) 10'00"
$20 for a PDF of the score or $60 for PDFs of both score and parts.
To purchase this score, fill out the contact form.
I began writing this piece around 4 months after joining USC’s Kazan Taiko, a Japanese drumming group. I was immediately drawn to the choreography and grace of kumi-daiko performance and knew I had to write for the ensemble. I felt that writing for taiko would be even more interesting if I could showcase its interaction with western instruments. The approach to music is so different in these ensembles, and this is what inspired me to write this piece. “Wataridori ya kakine” roughly translates to “migratory birds and boundaries.” The title is inspired by a quote by conductor Benjamin Zander, who said “a melodic line should be like birds ignoring the fences that lie beneath them.” Originally I had the title tori ga fensu o mushi suru which translates as “when birds disregard fences,” however, it can also translate as “ignore the bird fence.” The change to wataridori ya kakine was a poetic choice, as well as a choice for clarity. Migratory birds, in this case, capture movement and the visual aspect of birds in flight in one word. Kakine, the word translated as ‘boundaries’, has a variety of uses in the Japanese language. Kakine infers both to boundaries in the sense of fences, hedge rows and walls that line the properties of homes, and is defined as a barrier, an obstacle to overcome whether it be physical or mental.
You Know, Buddha
FlutE, Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Narrator (2011) 10'00"
The music in You Know, Buddha isn’t necessarily a reflection of what Alan Watts, an English Buddhist philosopher, is explaining in his lecture that is being recited in this piece. It is, rather, a reflection of me and my relationship with religion, spirituality and the concept of disappearing forever. It is a reaction to the lecture, agreement and disagreement.
The ensemble is rarely together as my thoughts are rarely together. At some points in the piece the listener may find themselves distracted by a slide in the clarinet, or a new theme introduced in the violin, or the narrator reciting a passage that relates to them. I want to invite the listener to let their mind wander and find themselves and their consciousness caught between the music and the lecture.
Horn, Percussion, Violin and Cello
Written for Houston Ballet Academy’s collaboration with American Festival for the Arts, “Miðgarðr” is a short ballet that explores the feelings of insignificance, loneliness, and human connection and the fear and happiness from which they stem. “Miðgarðr” (MID-gard) in Norse mythology is the realm in which living, mortal creatures live. It is the smallest of the realms, surrounded by realms of gods, giants and the afterlife. The title was chosen because in Norse mythology, our time here is extremely limited, and the connections you make here on Miðgarðr may never pass on to the afterlife, whether they are connections of love, friendship, hatred, etc. In short, life is fleeting.
“Miðgard” was premiered at Zilkha Hall in the Hobby Center, Houston, Texas, by members of the American Festival for the Arts faculty choreographed by Cooper Verona and performed by members of Houston Ballet Academy on July 16, 2009.